Powers, Robert

Committee Member

Blubaugh, Bill

Committee Member

Leth, Steven

Committee Member

Murry, Francie


College of Natural and Health Sciences; Education Mathematics


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



156 pages

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Born digital


Although concern about mathematical achievement inequities has become widespread, even in well-funded, high-performing high schools, unequal outcomes for minority and disadvantaged students can seem persistent and difficult to change despite strong efforts. This project reports on an ethnographic study that examined how social environments within schools can affect students’ choices of whether or not to attempt advanced coursework in mathematics, especially among marginalized groups like Hispanic minorities, low socio-economic status (SES) and rural populations. It considered how social and peer environments affect students’ approaches to schooling, and decisions they make that will have long-term implications for their futures. In particular, it focused on the academic cultures which arise around advanced tracks such as International Baccalaureate (IB) and AP classes, asking if those cultures may draw some students in and leave others out based on whether students can conform to cultural expectations within those peer subcultures. Finally, gender expression and gender norms were considered, especially as they intersect with academic norms and high achieving sub-cultures. This work may help schools to understand their own academic and gender cultures, making it possible for them to influence on-campus environments in order to create the opportunity for greater access to mathematics for all students.

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Copyright is held by the author.